Wednesday, October 26, 2005
and what do you know, it was a big day...
the first 300-400 metres from our camp is the deepest, softest sand i've ever ridden..
i'm doing better than yesterday morning, but i'm still stressing and struggling. i make it out ok, but i'm stressing again.
then follow some easier sections to a souvenir shop called the "croc tent". but after getting all wound up, it takes me some time to wind down again.
among other things, i'm feeling that i'm holding the guys up, wasting the tour guides time, and if the whole trip is gonna be like this, that i'll get there late december.
today's steed is a yamaha wr450. it's easier than yesterday's drz400 through the sand. one of the guides has a drz650, the other guides call it a DogRooter650, but as he glides through the sand with the greatest of ease, i refrain from offering any dumb comments. i think i'm gonna be known as the sand-dredge.
standing up on the wr is a lot easier than on the drz, the 'bars' are at a much more comfortable level for a tall person. my knees feel like i've been skiing for a week (they're a bit wobbly), but standing up is the only way i can get through the toxic sands, plus it's heaps easier when negiotating the corrugations. especially with the red gravelly stuff, it's like riding over little red marbles.
i'm in a whole other world on this shit
so we buy some tourist stuff at the croc tent for kids and nieces and take off.
the stay upright crew want us to keep a minimum of 2 mins gap between us, but typically, anyone behind me catches up quickly, so i slow to let them pass.
the two kiwi lads are pretty good, when they go past, they go past fast, especially when i'm struggling in the sand, as you have no idea which way i'm gonna go next, then they look over their shoulders, give me a little wave, and scream off into the bulldust.
anyway, we're heading to a beach to go riding, cut loose, and generally have some fun. the cook is let loose to have a go as well. he's as happy as a pig in shit. and we have to go through toxic sands part two. i survive most of it, i'm improving, but not quick enough. speed only works some of the time. here is tight twisty deep fine sand.
i finally take my first fall.
my mate reckon's the bike is standing upright when i fall off. but he's a naturally born bullshitter, stories only get longer when he tells them.
when i get in the sand, the edges of the sandy rut seem to drag at the bike, and i'm telling myself out aloud, stay in the rut, stay in the rug, stay in the rut, breathe! sometimes i kinda bounce to the other rut (2 ruts for 4wd wheel tracks), and sometimes i feel like i'm heading bush. i know all about target fixation and not looking where you don't wanna go, but every now and then, i'm climbing the ruts and heading bush.
typically this time the left rut has a really big sandy edge, stabilised by some green growth, so when i prang into it, i get dumped on my arse and bike is only laid over about 45 degrees.
i carry on, struggle, peak out a bit, and finally arrive at the beach to the encouragement of the others. they then cut loose and have a wonderful time trying to wheelstand in all gears and stuff like that. the cook earns my award for sick prick of the day by lowsiding, then highsiding, and later lowsiding. his highside bent a bar over the handlebar that's used to strengthen it or something. he bent it with his head. and he kept on going. he's a machine, he had a bit of a bloody nose, but it didn't slow him down in the slightest.
i did a lap of the beach, but spent most of my time sitting down relaxing, trying to de-stress a bit. it would have been more fun if i wasn't stressing about the ride back out.
the lap of the beach was interesting though, you cover ground really quickly on these bikes.
the kiwis are the most entertaining, they roost each other in sand at every opportunity. i pass them at one stage, one of them is on the sand, the other is up on the high bit above the sand, in the grass, bouncing all over the place.
two of the guides are vying for wheelstand champion, both get to at least 4th or 5th before the wind starts screwing them up and pushing them around. by the time they drop the front wheel it's stopped spinning and they have a moment's kooky-ness keeping balance.
i watched the others ride out, no worries, i'm last, i'll give it a go. i'm not dead yet. looks like they are all hitting second, then hitting the hill. 5 metres from the start of the hill i've ducked under a tree, hit second to grunt up, and stalled. shit.
damned bike won't turn over. i double check i'm in neutral, clutch in, try again, won't turn. one of the guides rocks up and checks that i'm in neutral etc... wait for a sec, try again, it kicks. musta been getting hot was the diagnosis later.
i'm getting good at restarting in the sand. hit first, rev, spin, feet paddling the ground, finally get momentum, jump up onto the pegs. get to the top, weaving and freaking. i'm trying to keep the front wheel light and keep the power on, but usually i end up heading towards the trees on either side., a few hundred metres of twisty shit to go before a long straight sandy bit out, i bounce out off the track to the left. i'm not panicking (much), cause there's no trees, and then i realise, it's easier up here, i try and re-enter the sand and bounce out again. fuck it, lets see how long i can stay out of the sand. the next 300-400 metres i take it easy before rejoining the sand for a fast straight (deep) bit out.
this confirms my notions of the universe. when all else fails, cheat.
then we're off to the tip of cape york. they should call it the top. every time they talked about the "tip" i was imagining the rubbish dump.
we ride to a camping area then walk about 1 km over rocks and hills to the northern most point. the view was pretty spectacular i though, and it was really windy, which helped to keep us cool. lots of little rock piles everywhere, probably from bored tourists.
there's a little island opposite with a lighthouse on it. also this point is one of the places where the coral sea and arafura sea meet. as it's quite narrow here between the "tip" and two islands, the waters swirl and rush through from both directions. the guides say sometimes you can see a noticeable difference in the sea heights and the water rushes from one side to the other to make up the difference. dunno about that but it sounded good.
a couple of turtles swim away as we approach the sign telling us where we are and we take a break, take some photos, and look around at all the graffiti some losers have left here in the past.
on our way back to the campsite we have a choice. about 7km of toxic sand, or the easy way. i take the easy way. i'm getting more confident and this time i have no freaked out panic stops or near misses.
so we relax near the pool with a few beers, then a few more around the campsite waiting for dinner. some of the tour guides are fishing, but not too near the water's edge. the cook is busy over the campfire.
they have this bird here called a bush turkey. only the guides call it a scrub fuckwit. they have an annoying habit of running through the camp in the early hours of the morning squawking and carrying on, and anything left out they will grab and disappear into the bush with. fortunately once we leave the campsite in a few days we also leave these stupid birds behind.